How To Help A Fat Cat Lose Weight

This cat resembles a basketball.

This cat resembles a basketball.

Did you know that obesity is one of the main health problems for cats? It is easy for cats to pack on pounds, especially if they’re indoor-only. As you can imagine, this leads to a variety of health ailments for your furry little friend. Although a round cat can be pleasing to the eye, obesity puts cats at risk of diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, and many other health ailments. Even the fattest cat can lose weight with the right plan. If your cat is seriously overweight, make sure to consult your veterinarian before making dietary changes. Losing weight at too rapid of a pace can strike up other serious health complications.

Cats are predatory animals with little to no natural predators. This allows cats, wild and domesticated, to make their daily schedule consist of eating and sleeping. Normally, a cat would have to be on its toes at all times in the wild, foraging for the next meal. This lifestyle keeps cats slender and agile. For the average housecat, the day consists of lots of sleeping, limited mobility, and regular meals brought straight to them.

There are a few factors as to why a cat would become overweight. The most common reasons are the food that your cat is eating and the amount of exercise that your cat is getting. Another possible reason for an obese cat could be a health issue. Again, if your cat is seriously obese, you should consult with your veterinarian before making any major changes in your cat’s diet.

The first thing to do when considering your cat’s state of health involves checking their body condition. For a more in-depth article on how to tell if your cat is fat, click here. Basically, you’ll need to start by feeling for your cat’s ribs. Their ribcage will be located just behind their front legs, and should be easy to make out. There should be a healthy amount of fat over the ribs, but you should still be able to feel them. You should also be able to feel your cat’s hipbones, located at the base of their tail. All other bony areas should be easily felt, including the spine, shoulders, and hips. Next, take a look at your cat from the side and from above. If your cat looks more rotund than sleek, then you’ve got a fat cat.

Now, let’s talk about how to move forward. Once you’ve determined that your cat is fat, there are three key factors that can help your kitty lose a pound or a few.

Not all cat food was created equal.

Not all cat food was created equal.

1. The quality of your cat’s food: Just like with people food, buying the cheapest brand of food is usually not the healthiest choice. It is important that the food that you’re giving your kitty is high-quality and made up of a healthy mix of nutrients and vitamins. Many brands of cat food use low quality ingredients that contain lots of carbohydrates and small amounts of protein. Since cats are natural predatory carnivores, they are built to eat real meat like fish and mice. Feeding your cat the cheapest food is like raising your child strictly on Goldfish crackers.

If you give your cat dry food, make sure that the food has a high protein content and that the first ingredient listed on the bag is meat. Many cheap brands list their first ingredient on the nutritional label as corn, which is a bad sign. The first ingredient on a nutritional label is the main ingredient, so you want to make sure that it is high-quality. You also may want to try introducing wet food. Wet food is great for cats because it is closer to what they would naturally choose to eat in the wild.

2. The portion size: It is easy to overfeed your cat, regardless of how high-quality their food is. A fat cat’s eyes are bigger than their stomachs, and tend to overeat. Some cats are better at stopping eating when they are full, and can be trusted with a full bowl of food. However, many obese cats are known to eat until the plate is licked clean. The food bag that you have should tell you an appropriate amount to give your cat per meal.

It is a good idea to give your cat between 2-4 small portions throughout the day. Giving a fat cat one big meal all at once will just make them hungrier later. A cat’s meal should be basically equivalent to the weight of a mouse; between 0.6 and 1oz. An average can of cat food contains approximately 3oz of food, meaning that a small can contains at least three meals.

3. Exercise: This is a huge contributor as to why house cats are just so fat. Lack of physical exercise will make your cat gain weight like nobody’s business. This is why it is so important for cat owners to provide active stimulation for their furry friends. You can influence your cat to be active through play using chase toys. You can purchase a chase toy that requires a person to manually play with the cat, or an automatic toy designed to help your cat get physical.

Another way to give your cat exercise is by teaching them to walk on a leash. This way, your indoor cat can get a sense of the great outdoors while staying safe and secure with you. Getting your cat to wear a harness may seem like a complicated feat, but it is entirely possible with patience and time. For our step-by-step guide to teaching your cat to walk on a leash, click here.

This guy could stand to lose a few pounds.

This guy sure could stand to lose a few pounds.

If you think that your cat needs to lose weight, the first step that you need to take is going for a visit to the veterinarian. This way, you can get face-to-face professional advice on your specific cat’s diet plan. However, the main reason that you’ll want to visit the veterinarian is to make sure that nothing else is going on health-wise that is compromising your cat’s health. Your veterinarian should take blood work on your cat to make sure that there isn’t a problem with their thyroid, the controller of your cat’s metabolism.

Above all, remember that helping your cat lose weight takes time and patience, and you’ll likely have to ignore your cat’s pleas for food more often than not. In the end, putting your cat on a healthy diet will be their new meal plan for life and will keep them lean, agile, and healthy. Take your time, consult your veterinarian, and you’ll be on the path to a fit kitty in no time.

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